21 Mar Special of the day: Baking with a Bounty of Beautiful Blueberries
A diet rich in blueberries, armed with the highest capacity of antioxidants of all fresh fruit, will provide you with the building blocks your body needs to fight disease and aging.
Studies have shown that eating at least a half a cup of fresh blueberries a day can boost the immune system, help reduce belly fat and risk factors for cardiovascular disease, promote urinary tract health, slow down age-related vision problems and help heal damaged brain cells and neuron tissues, keeping memory sharp. Well, then, bring on the blueberries!
Beyond the abundance of health benefits, blueberries are just plain pretty to look at and even better to eat. So you can imagine my delight when my friend Vicki offered to drop off a flat of them on my front porch last weekend. Ah, yes, please.
The beauty of the blueberry lies in its versatility, I say. They go with just about everything. Sprinkled over breakfast cereal, plopped into pancakes, tossed into salads, blended into smoothies, folded into yogurt parfaits, anything goes! Adding blueberries to your régime could not be any easier-or more rewarding- when you remember all the nutritional value they bring to the table.
The wind whipping outside my door last week made staying inside a pleasure and even more so with the bounty of beautiful blueberries just aching to be baking into something fresh and hot from the oven.
With heartfelt thanks to Vicki, I give you this week’s Special of the day: Baking with a Bounty of Beautiful Blueberries and recipes for Lemon Blueberry-Ribbon Bundt Cake and Blueberry Cream Cheese Danishes. Happy Baking!
Lemon Blueberry-Ribbon Bundt Cake (makes one 12-cup Bundt cake, 12-16 slices) ¼ cup butter, softened 1 ¾ cup sugar 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind 4 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 cups plain unsweetened yogurt 3 cups flour 1 heaping teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda ¼ teaspoon salt 2 cups blueberries Lemon glaze: 2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1 ¼ cups powdered sugar Whisk glaze ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using electric mixer, cream butter, sugar and lemon rind until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time and beat until incorporated. Beat in vanilla and yogurt, just until mixed. Sift dry ingredients and add to batter, beating just until incorporated. Spray a 12-cup Bundt pan with baking spray (nonstick spray with flour). Spoon half of the batter into the Bundt pan, spreading with a rubber spatula to even out. Sprinkle blueberries on top of batter and top with remaining batter, smoothing the batter with a rubber spatula to cover blueberries. Bake in preheated oven for 55-60 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on cooling rack. Run a table knife around edges and invert onto cooling rack. Glaze cooled cake with lemon glaze. Slice and serve. Enjoy! Blueberry Cream Cheese Danishes (makes 6 danishes) 2 cups fresh blueberries ¼ cup water ¼ cup sugar ¼ cup warm water 1 tablespoon cornstarch ½ teaspoon almond extract 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened ¼ cup powdered sugar 1 teaspoon almond extract 10-ounce package frozen puff pastry shells, thawed Make blueberry filling: In a medium heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine blueberries, ¼ cup water and sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved. In small bowl, combine ¼ cup warm water and cornstarch, stirring to incorporate. Stir a small amount of the blueberry mixture into the cornstarch mixture, stirring to combine and return to pan. Cook until slightly thickened. Add almond extract. Stir to incorporate. Remove from heat and cool. (Can be made ahead and refrigerated until ready to fill danishes and bake.) Make the cream cheese filling: Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon almond until light and fluffy. Assemble the danishes: On a lightly floured surface, roll out thawed puff pastry shells to flatten until the dough measures 6 inches across the middle. Spoon a large tablespoon of cream cheese filling in the center of each puff pastry shell. Top with a heaping tablespoon of blueberry filling. Fold top and bottom sides of each Danish toward the middle, pressing to seal. Then, fold sides in, using wet fingertips to seal the pastry into a danish and enclose the filling. Transfer to baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes until pastry is puffed and golden brown. Cool slightly and serve. Enjoy!
Sydne George is a food journalist specializing in recipe development, food writing and food photography. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . Sydne’s recipes from “Special of the day” are archived at http://sydnegeorge.com/blog/.